NDRF has to deal with difficult terrain, exhausted victims

Some trapped in silt and mud, others in a sea of bodies, and some other Uttarakhand victims too exhausted or shell-shocked to move an inch. Add the terrain and weather to the mix and you have, quite literally, an uphill task as far as the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which has rescued close to 6,000 people so far, is concerned.

Be it those in the NDRF control room in the Capital or the jawans from their 7th and 8th Battalions, who have been moved from Ghaziabad and Bhatinda to carry out rescue operations, better coordination and swift response in the hill State, have been key in ensuring that stranded people get help at the earliest.

“Once we receive information about people stranded in a particular area, we respond almost immediately as waiting for any kind of confirmation means loss of precious rescue time. Our priority is to save any life we can and we are duty-bound to assist the State in rescue and relief operations,” said a senior NDRF officer at its headquarters here on the operations taken up by them independently or along with the Army or the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

With their men evacuating distressed pilgrims at Sonprayag, Bhairav Chatti, Guptkashi, Gaurikund and Kedarnath — all at different altitudes and each posing unique challenges — the officer said the higher you go, the tougher it becomes to conserve energy and deal with the variations in temperature.

Even as round-the-clock efforts to move stranded victims to nearby places are on, providing urgent medical attention and food and water is important too, said the officer. The rescue efforts also involve ensuring that survivors are not present in inaccessible places, for which the agency uses various screening methods.

The NDRF, which has been operating in the hills since June 18, has recovered 125 bodies so far.

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